So, you have the date, the reception hall, a working budget… now it’s time to start planning for your big day! You might be asking yourself, what to do first? I advise couples to start with the largest portions of your wedding budget and go down the list from there. Knowing your reception is at least 45% of your total budget, you now need to figure out what percentage will go to décor. Realistically, wedding décor is usually thrown into the “flowers” category. If you’ve seen our first Savvy Bride article, Bridal Budget 101, then you know that flowers and décor require between 8-10% of your total budget. But exactly what can you do to keep within that pre-set price range? I’ve compiled information from the best in the business to help you keep on budget!
Start with the most popular request… flowers
Okay, there are two simple rules to follow when shopping for flowers that are imperative to keeping your budget intact:
- Buy flowers that are in season
- Find a reputable florist, flower shop, or online resource
The worst thing you could possibly do is get involved with the wrong dealer. Trust me, they are out there and their specialty is hooking the bride in with bribes of “cost cutting” and a “great deal”. I’ve been duped before, and it’s no fun! Make sure your vendor has a wide knowledge of materials and selection. Take the prices they give you and go to a few other shops/boutiques. If your prices are around the same at each place, then this vendor is more than likely legit… just please SIGN A CONTRACT! If you want to DIY your arrangements and bouquets, that’s fine too. There are a plethora of online florists and shops. Just be aware that if you order, fresh flowers are only good for about 48-72 hours and need to be stored at a temp between 62-70 degrees. Don’t count out grocery store flower departments, some have an on site florist that may do weddings, and most will allow bulk flower orders (but they need at least a 30 day notice!).
Know what you want and what you can afford
In searching for fresh flowers, your cheapest will be daisies, carnations, daffodils, roses, and greenery. The prices starts creeping up as you begin requesting items like callas, gardenias, magnolias, or orchids. If you fall in love with something and you aren’t sure if it fits the budget, ask. If you have a reputable florist, you may be able to cut here and there to get what you want. It’s a 50/50 chance, but if you don’t ask you’ll never know!
If all else fails go fake
You can find a nice variety of silk and other artificial flowers at a local craft store. Believe it or not, Walmart is actually starting to stock a large variety of products in their wedding section of the store… rollback the savings girls! Craft stores have employees that make arrangements, so if you aren’t the do it yourself girl, they may be able to help you out! Better yet, use fruit! We all are jumping on the eco-chic green wave. What better way to help out the environment than choosing some locally grown fruits (in the warmer months) and veggies (in the fall). For the winter months, nature still provides… pine cones, sticks, branches… whatever! Spray with some color and you’ll have beautiful, natural, décor for the big day!
While you’re cruising the isles of your local craft stores…
…keep your eyes open for deals around every corner. Rummage the clearance shelves for vases, candles, and candle holders on sale. You’re containers don’t all have to match, especially if you are planning to rock some of the season’s hottest trends like retro or vintage. If matching containers is of major importance, you can use a party rental company and lease the products you want to use. You’ll save big if you pick up your rentals and return them instead of their delivery service. Shop off season. If you are planning a wedding around holidays ( Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, etc.) shop after that holiday/season the year before. You can pick up great deals and decrease the stress when you big day nears.
What does your reception site have to offer?
In keeping with the money saving theme, its a good idea to check to see what types of décor are available (free of charge) at your reception site. Are you responsible for ordering chairs and tables, or are they provided? Same with linens, plates, and silverware. If marrying around the holidays, decorations may already be there, therefore less out of the budget! Check out the lighting as well. If you want to add a little more spice to the night, invest in small tea lights or Christmas lights (remember that clearance shelf we were discussing?). Clear Christmas lights work best and can be covered over by a number of translucent fabrics like toile or lace. Add added depth to your tables by placing your centerpieces on mirrors. When tea lights are added and lighted, the most beautiful scene is created.
Not the DIY type?
If you are at a total loss for how to make your own centerpieces, either using real flowers or fake, look at taking a flower arrangement class or look online. Youtube is full of plenty of demos you can watch that will aid you in your endeavors. Once you have perfected your skills, employ your friends and family to help assemble the day before your wedding. See if your photographer will work out a deal in your package where they can come over and take photos of you and the girls making your arrangements and bouquets. You’ll have special memories to put in an album to give as thank you gifts once the wedding is over.
More money-saving tips:
- Check to see if your flowers at the church can transfer to the reception.
- Flower share: check to see if another couple is being married at your church/venue on the same day. If so, see if the couple wants to split the cost of flowers with you.
- Balloons: not my favorite pick, but usually very price friendly!
- Re-use your bouquets: after pictures, set your bouquets in small vases and use them either on your head table or as décor for your cake table.
- Liking the idea of candles vs. flowers: have both by scattering rose petals rounds your candles. You’ll get a better bang for your buck by far this way! Confetti works as well instead of roses.
- Choose favors that can enhance your table settings. Go for cute favors like personalized tins of mints, silver bells with your wedding date, or little bride and groom boxes filled with candies!
- Don’t throw the bouquet: use a small cluster of flowers. No one will notice, trust me.
- Collect old frames: if your site doesn’t provide holders for table numbers, collect old, or clearance frames. Make your own table numbers and put them inside. Then use frames afterward for your wedding photos or give as gifts!
When it comes to budgeting for your wedding décor, the easiest way to keep within your budget is to make sure you have your homework done before you shop. Know what you want and don’t be afraid to quiz your florist. After all that’s what their there for. If you aren’t convinced you are getting the best deal, look at other shops to make sure you are getting exactly what you want! I hope these little tips from the experts will help you beat the wedding planning blues. It’s tough, and one of the more stressful times in your life. Relax, breath, and let us help you stick to your guns. Budget woes be gone!